Dawn Feldman-Steis exposes the problem of religious leaders using fear and manipulation to control their parishioners in this call-to-action book that challenges believers to question everything that may seem “off” within their church.
As a young girl, Feldman-Steis suffered emotional and physical abuse by church leaders. Pain and anger followed her into adulthood, causing her to question the motives of church leaders. In this memoir-style book, she shares her dreams for a reformed church where we “correct the lies and myths that religion has used to bind people to pews and not purpose.”
Through her candid retelling of personal struggles, she reveals a corruption that she believes is rampant: “Your worst hour becomes their best-earned dollar as they manipulate your faith or fear of losing your faith to keep you coming back and to keep you donating…, to keep you stuck.” The author imagines a reformed church where leadership is kept in check by a “rotation of beliefs and leaders from all practices in faith.”
From a childhood spanking delivered by a power-grabbing minister, to a manipulative, sinister priest turning an entire church against her, Steis has suffered deeply at the hands of clergy she thought she could trust. Perhaps understandably, much of her writing focuses on telling her side of these painful events. At times, however, the book feels more like a peek inside the author’s personal journal, rather than a narrative that offers a clear-cut plan to help readers through their own difficult circumstances.
Also, as an ordained minister, Feldman-Steis’s frequent use of expletives throughout the book is jolting, unnecessary and may be off-putting to some readers. Coupled with consistent grammatical and typographical mistakes, the book feels a bit unpolished and unprofessional.
Still, some readers may find her raw personality and casual tone refreshing and relatable, and Feldman-Steis’s non-traditional views may resonate with readers who are trying to heal from church abuse.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.